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The Devil Exists

First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:9-20

Hannah rose after a meal at Shiloh,
and presented herself before the LORD;
at the time, Eli the priest was sitting on a chair
near the doorpost of the LORD’s temple.
In her bitterness she prayed to the LORD, weeping copiously,
and she made a vow, promising: “O LORD of hosts,
if you look with pity on the misery of your handmaid,
if you remember me and do not forget me,
if you give your handmaid a male child,
I will give him to the LORD for as long as he lives;
neither wine nor liquor shall he drink,
and no razor shall ever touch his head.”
As she remained long at prayer before the LORD,
Eli watched her mouth, for Hannah was praying silently;
though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard.
Eli, thinking her drunk, said to her,
“How long will you make a drunken show of yourself?
Sober up from your wine!”
“It isn’t that, my lord,” Hannah answered.
“I am an unhappy woman.
I have had neither wine nor liquor;
I was only pouring out my troubles to the LORD.
Do not think your handmaid a ne’er-do-well;
my prayer has been prompted by my deep sorrow and misery.”
Eli said, “Go in peace,
and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
She replied, “Think kindly of your maidservant,” and left.
She went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband,
and no longer appeared downcast.
Early the next morning they worshiped before the LORD,
and then returned to their home in Ramah.

When Elkanah had relations with his wife Hannah,
the LORD remembered her.
She conceived, and at the end of her term bore a son
whom she called Samuel, since she had asked the LORD for him.

Responsorial Psalm: 1 Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8ABCD

R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“My heart exults in the LORD,
my horn is exalted in my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies;
I rejoice in my victory.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“The bows of the mighty are broken,
while the tottering gird on strength.
The well-fed hire themselves out for bread,
while the hungry batten on spoil.
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“The LORD puts to death and gives life;
he casts down to the nether world;
he raises up again.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he humbles, he also exalts.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“He raises the needy from the dust;
from the dung heap he lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles
and make a glorious throne their heritage.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

Gospel: Mark 1:21-28

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers,
and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

NAB

jan 12

It seems to me that belief in God, even belief in a specifically Christian God, is mostly considered to be acceptable in polite society.

But mention the Devil? You’re probably going to get written off as a loony reeeaal quick. But there it is, in the Bible. Satan is real. Demons are real. Infestation, oppression, obsession, possession? All real things. Every Catholic diocese has at least one exorcist. It’s not just for the movies.

As Pope Francis said, “This generation, and many others, have been led to believe that the devil is a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil. But the devil exists and we must fight against him.”

But, as C.S. Lewis said (in the introduction to The Screwtape Letters), “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight.”

So how do we find that balance? How exactly do we cultivate a disinterested belief in evil spirits?

First, know your place. The Devil needs an invitation. Don’t give it to him. Avoid all occult practices and situations. Don’t click on that link. Don’t mess with fortune tellers or ouija boards or tarot cards.

Second, know his place. It’s easy to forget that the Devil is not God’s counter-point, but rather Saint Michael’s. As Catholics we should believe in devils, but understand that their place is far below God. They picked the losing side. They don’t have power over us if we don’t give it to them.

Jesus commands the unclean spirits and they obey Him. We’re good.

If you’re worried, say the Saint Michael prayer and consult a priest.

photo by Madi Myers-Cook

Kendra Tierney lives in Los Angeles, CA where her interests include blogging, homeschooling, looking after her eight children, and fixing up a hundred year old tumbledown mansion. You can find out more about her here.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Sara
    January 12, 2016 at 11:09 am

    “It’s easy to forget that the Devil is not God’s counter-point, but rather Saint Michael’s.”
    So true… Because if God is good and the devil is bad then they must be equal and opposite, right? Thank you for the reminder and the equally appropriate practical advice (to say St Michael’s prayer)

  • Reply
    Michelle
    April 20, 2016 at 4:18 am

    This makes me feel a little bit better about when I was reading a sample on my Kindle app of Thigpen’s Saints Who Battled Satan and both the nurse and anesthesiologist asked me what I was reading. I did not want to say. Thankfully, I did and I’m sure it was God working in all of us.

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